Daily Archives: March 28, 2011

A.S. Haley: The Soft Tyranny of Low Expectations Illustrated at the TEC HOB Meeting

Given the collegial atmosphere and expectations, therefore, it comes as a bit of a shock to learn that the leadership of ECUSA has arranged a slightly different agenda for the 2011 spring meeting of the House of Bishops. That agenda includes an indoctrination of the attendees into what President Ronald Reagan once memorably called “the soft tyranny of low expectations” (and which George W. Bush changed into “the soft bigotry of low expectations”). Again, we have this eyewitness account (I have added the bold emphasis):

After a challenging address by the PB to “show up” in the various challenging venues of today’s world, we had a report from a committee on changes in governance of The Episcopal Church, concerns about the new Title IV Canon revisions (clergy discipline), a report from the committee on same gender blessings, and from a group looking at devising a process for the “reconciliation or dissolution of a pastoral relationship between a bishop and a diocese!”

Wow! For the new bishops: welcome to your new role!

“Welcome to your new role,” indeed. Bishop Epting (now retired, but attending in lieu of Bishop Scarfe of Iowa, who is on a sabbatical) may not realize how close he has come to hitting the nail on the head. While the number of new bishops in the House of Bishops not politically significant, and is at best a dozen or so among a total of about 130, it is essential that the new bishops be, in the words of Oscar Hammerstein, “carefully taught”.

And what better subject for the “teachers” than the newly created metropolitan authority of the Presiding Bishop herself?…

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

(AP) Pastor's book on Hell sparks eternal debate

When Chad Holtz lost his old belief in hell, he also lost his job.

The pastor of a rural United Methodist church in North Carolina wrote a note on his Facebook page supporting a new book by Rob Bell, a prominent young evangelical pastor and critic of the traditional view of hell as a place of eternal torment for billions of damned souls.

Two days later, Holtz was told complaints from church members prompted his dismissal from Marrow’s Chapel in Henderson.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Eschatology, Evangelicals, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CNS) Stewardship called 'practical spirituality' that follows Jesus' example

If you think stewardship is just a fancy way a parish asks for more in the collection basket, Father Daniel Mahan invites you to think again.

“Stewardship is much more important than money, much more valuable than silver or gold,” the priest from Indiana said. “Holiness is our goal. Stewardship is a practical spirituality that gets us there.”

Stewardship calls people to imitate Jesus in his generous self-giving, he added, “and when we do that, we become more Christ-like. We grow in holiness.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic, Stewardship, Theology

Coastal Carolina Presbytery Declines to Change Sexual Standard for Clergy

Derrick Montgomery, an openly gay pastor at Fayetteville’s United Ministries in Christ, says the issue was long buried in churches, only to become apparent in the past decade.

“In the church I grew up in, there were gay individuals,” he said. “They just kept quiet, and nobody made an issue of it.

“But over the past several years, churches are being forced to deal with the issue. It’s a difficult issue, and we certainly aren’t insensitive to that. But we find it to be in keeping with the spirit of God to accept all those who wish to worship, not limit ourselves to certain categories.”

Perhaps the most public schism came in the U.S. Episcopal Church, where the ordination of an openly gay bishop in 2003 led to hundreds of churches breaking away from the denomination. The church ordained a second openly gay bishop last year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Bishop Pierre Whalon's Statement on Libya

The issue of a “just war” is rather simple when a nation is attacked and has to defend itself. Since the American intervention in Iraq, the question of preventive strikes has been widely discussed. The fact that Gadhafi has to use mercenaries to try to repress the uprising of his own people could be another case to consider: does the international community have the right to intervene in such a situation?

Yes, and for several reasons: the rebels have requested it; the Arab League and therefore the neighboring countries have asked for it, and our own awareness of the suffering of the Libyan people, and what awaits the insurgents if Gadhafi wins his war against his own people, requires it.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Libya, TEC Bishops, Theology

(Daily Monitor) University in Uganda to be built in honour of martyrs

The Mt. Elgon sub-region district local governments in partnership with Diocesan bishops of eastern Uganda have sealed discussions intended to start an African Anglican University (AAU)a living memorial to African martyrdom.

The proposed university will be established at the Bishop Usher Wilson Theological College, Buwalasi in Sironko.

It is to be a living memory of particularly Bishop Jonan Luwum and Dr. Martin Luther King Junior and a South African martyr, Manche Masemola.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of Uganda, Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(ACNS) Anglican leaders condemn burning of the Qur’an; Prayer offered

Anglican leaders have condemned the act of burning of the Qur’an on March 20 in Florida, United States. Bishop Alexander Malik of the Diocese of Lahore, Pakistan, said that “Such acts were in flagrant contradiction to the teaching of Christianity”¦ They were the manifestations of sick minds busy in spreading hatred, bigotry and unease in society.”

In Peshawar, Pakistan, Bishop Humphrey Peters noted that this was a “shameful act” performed “only to gain cheap popularity”. Bishop Peters was speaking at a press conference alongside members of a Peshawar based inter faith group ”˜Faith Friends’ at which colleagues from the Muslim, Sikh and Hindu communities also expressed their anger at the action.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Asia, England / UK, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Pakistan

The Bishop of Portsmouth blesses revamped St Mary’s church

The newly refurbished Priory Church of St Mary has been blessed by the Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth.

In a service yesterday the Rt Rev Christopher Foster officially rededicated the Hayling Island Church, which reopened just before Christmas last year having undergone a six-month, £400,000 refit.

The medieval building now has underfloor heating, state-of-the-art lighting, wooden chairs to replace the old pews and restored stonework inside.I

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

(Daily Mail) C of E row as cathedral opens doors to tarot card readers and crystal healers

The Church of England was braced for a fresh row today after a cathedral announced plans to host a ‘new age’ festival.

The event – featuring tarot card readers, crystal healers, dream interpretation, and a fire-breathing vicar – is to be held in Manchester Cathedral in May.

But the move is certain to anger traditionalists, who feel the Church has already strayed too far from tradition.

Read it all.

Update: There is more here also.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry

(USA Today) Tom Krattenmaker: Even religious freedom has limits

In an 1878 decision on the Mormons and polygamy, the Supreme Court held”” much like Oregon’s Legislature today ”” that religious freedom could not justify (otherwise) criminal activity. If it could, the court reasoned, what would stop a church from practicing human sacrifice?

Therein lies important practical wisdom that’s worth remembering the next time you hear people shouting indignantly about their rights with little regard for the consequences faced by their fellow citizens of other persuasions ”” whether it’s a pharmacy employee’s “right” to refuse selling legal contraceptives or an ardent secularist’s “right” to be free of any exposure to religious expression in public (as in the case of those who would forbid mention of the G-word in the Pledge of Allegiance).

The freedom to believe as one chooses is crucial to the American way, and belief has little meaning if it cannot be acted upon. Even so, as the Followers of Christ are learning the hard way, the right to practice religion must have its limits. Especially when the consequences are life or death for those with no choice in the matter.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government

Ivor Roberts (The Tablet)–Libya: two cheers for intervention

Historically, the east of Libya centred on Benghazi is quite distinct from the rest of the country and has suffered disproportionately under Col Gaddafi. It is not impossible that the country will be effectively divided while a civil war ensues. We have no mandate from the UN to intervene on the ground to help the anti-Gaddafi forces take Tripoli. We could, of course, arm them, which would allow them to defend the territory gained but we are then drifting further away from humanitarian intervention and closer to direct military involvement. More importantly, it might make it more difficult in future to secure Security Council backing for future humanitarian interventions.

From a parochial British point of view, we will want to gauge whether removing Col Gaddafi, as opposed to stopping his attacks on his own people, matters sufficiently to us as to be prepared to see our soldiers actively engaged on the ground. In reaching a decision are we motivated by a desire to protect our own security and energy supplies or are we inspired by the obvious wish of significant elements of the Libyan people to be free of the Gaddafi incubus? Almost certainly the latter.

But after the bitter experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan, public opinion will want to know what the exit strategy is. If we are prepared to intervene on the ground to save Benghazi from being overrun by Col Gaddafi, how long would we be prepared to remain?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Europe, Foreign Relations, Libya, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Economist Leader–The challenge of Libya: Where will it end?

Libya is not Iraq. The West has learned through bitter experience to avoid the grievous mistakes it made from the outset of that venture. For one thing, the current mission is indisputably legal. For another, it has, at least for now, the backing of Libya’s own people and””even allowing for some wobbles from Turkey and the Arab League””of most Arab and Muslim countries. Libya’s population is a quarter the size of Iraq’s, and the country should be easier to control: almost all its people, a more homogeneous lot albeit with sharp tribal loyalties, live along the Mediterranean coastal strip. If Colonel Qaddafi’s state crumbles, the West should not seek to disband his army or the upper echelons of his administration, as it foolishly did in Iraq. The opposition’s interim national council contains secular liberals, Islamists, Muslim Brothers, tribal figures and recent defectors from the camp of Colonel Qaddafi. The West should recognise the council as a transitional government, provided that it promises to hold multiparty elections. Above all, there must be no military occupation by outsiders. It is tempting to put time-limits on such a venture, but that would be futile.

Success in Libya is not guaranteed””how could it be? It is a violent country that may well succumb to more violence, and will not become a democracy any time soon. But its people deserve to be spared the dictator’s gun and be given a chance of a better future.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Europe, Foreign Relations, Libya

Ted Lewis–Anglican Conciliarism: A Bright Hope Extinguished

The end of conciliarism, which accords with the practice of the early church, is to be regarded as tragic. The Anglican tragedy, like its medieval counterpart, may be seen as stemming from the reluctance of the central authority to relinquish or even dilute its control. This reluctance is not necessarily a matter of perversity, however. To be sure, the reluctance of Anglican Communion Office, instanced by their keeping the ACC in line in Jamaica, has seemed motivated by a desire to avoid offending TEC, which provides much of their funding. But from their perspective TEC’s financial support may appear essential for the proper functioning of the Communion. They have seemed concerned also to avoid alienating the liberal wing of the Church of England. But this may be not just out of ideological predisposition. It may also reflect a belief that the CofE could not afford the resulting exacerbation of its divisions.

To Archbishop Rowan himself, with his brilliant mind, deep learning, and winning personality, such considerations may have less application. The explanation in his case may lie more in his espousal of a theology militating against closure on any issue, and thus supportive of the inclinations of the Anglican Communion Office, as of the interests of TEC, by default. Charles Raven, in his 2010 book Shadow Gospel: the Theology of Rowan Williams and the Anglican Communion Crisis, made an impressive case to this effect. As for Rowan’s adherence to such a theology despite all his sophistication, being essentially an academic, without secular or even significant parish experience, perhaps limits his awareness of the outside world.

If, then, there is to be a revival of Anglican conciliarism, it will have to come not from the Instruments in their now compromised state but instead out of churches of the Global South, together with their Western allies. These churches have laid a basis for it already in Gafcon, their conference in Jerusalem in June 2008. There the Spirit was clearly at work, producing conciliarly the extraordinary Jerusalem Declaration. So far, despite the South-to-South Encounter in Singapore in April 2010 and the CAPA meeting in Uganda last August, the Global South leaders have not followed up on it. But by absenting themselves from the Dublin Primates’ Meeting and thereby sealing its irrelevance, they have taken on a responsibility to do so. For the sake of conciliarism and of Anglicanism itself, they need now, in American terms, to step up to the plate.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Instruments of Unity, Lambeth 2008, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Windsor Report / Process

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Eternal God, who through thy Son our Lord hast promised a blessing upon those who hear thy Word and faithfully keep it: Open our ears, we humbly beseech thee, to hear what thou sayest, and enlighten our minds, that what we hear we may understand, and understanding may carry into good effect by thy bounteous prompting; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Euchologium Anglicanum

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Bible Readings

And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness. So also David pronounces a blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not reckon his sin.” Is this blessing pronounced only upon the circumcised, or also upon the uncircumcised? We say that faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised.

–Romans 4:5-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(TEC Off. of P.A.) House of Bishops Daily Account for March 27, 2011

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is meeting at the Kanuga Conference Center in North Carolina from March 25 to March 30. The following is an account of the activities for Sunday, March 27.

Following a day of Sabbath, the House of Bishops gathered for a Moravian Service of Holy Communion in the Kanuga Chapel. .

The Liturgy for Christian Unity was taken from the Moravian Book of Worship.
The Bishops of the Moravian Church participating in the service were:
The Rt. Rev. Dr. D. Wayne Burkette, who welcomed HOB to the service, thanking HOB “for the invitation to be part of the meeting of HOB and for the opportunity to worship,” noting that he looks forward to “future times of worship and fellowship and common mission as expressions of our full communion.”

The Rt. Rev. Graham H. Rights, who provided the meditation. “I hope you will seek out Moravian partnership wherever you are,” he said, bringing greetings from the 17 Moravian bishops (10 bishops in the Northern Province and 7 in the Southern Province).

He continued, “The Eucharist is a service of thanksgiving and tonight our thanksgiving is for this coming together. We have taken a step to answer the Lord’s prayer that we all may be one.”

He talked about an early bishop of the Unitas Fractum, John Comenius, whose birthday was March 28, 1592. Comenius proposed a world assembly, and his early writings included those about the Anglican Church.

Bishop Rights pointed out that now, three different reformation churches are in communion with each other: the Episcopal Church, the Moravian Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. “It is an exciting time in the history of our communions,” he said. “It is an exciting time for the universal church.”

The Rt. Rev. Lane A. Sapp presided at the service.

Moravian Daily Text for March 27 was read:
Malachi 4:2: For you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings.

Romans 13:12: The night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Readings were:
Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16: I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

John 15:12-17 ”˜This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

Music was prepared by the Director of Moravian Service Foundation Nola Knouse; organist was Paul F. Knouse.

Among the hymns and festive music at the Service were: The Church’s one foundation; Holy Spirit, still creating; Join we all with one accord; Is this our high calling; Highly favored congregation; Christ is our Master, Lord and God.

Note: Full communion between the Episcopal Church and the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church in North America was celebrated in February. The relationship of full communion was approved by the Episcopal Church General Convention in 2009 and by the 2010 Provincial Synods of the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church in North America.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

Sunday Mental Health Break–Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music

(Globe and Mail) Jeffrey Sachs' outlook darkens on global food prospects

In light of recent food price spikes ”“ some of which exceed the peaks reached during the now notorious food crisis of 2008 ”“ and the continuing political instability in the Middle East, Dr. [Jeffrey] Sachs’s outlook was markedly darker than usual during a video talk he delivered Friday to a gathering on food scarcity and global security held at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. Despite his trademark frankness in articulating global challenges, Dr. Sachs has traditionally been an optimist.

“Something very dramatic is happening,” he warned a rapt audience. “We’ve entered a new global scenario with respect to food, hunger and conflict ”¦ an era where things are likely to get tougher, not easier, in terms of production,” he said. “We’re hitting boundaries that are very important to understand and very important to counteract.”

Chief among those is the fact that global demand for food ”“ and the agricultural commodities used to produce it ”“ is outpacing the growth of supplies. The onset of climate change, which affects everything from the water supply to crop yields, is a ballooning wedge that will continue to force those trend lines in opposite directions, Dr. Sachs said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Globalization, Politics in General

(AFP) Merkel party in German state poll disaster

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives lost power in their German heartland after nearly six decades, initial poll results showed Sunday, with the Greens likely to lead their first state government.

Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) have ruled Baden-Wuerttemberg since 1953, but anger over her nuclear policy in light of the Japan crisis as well as decisions on Libya and the euro drove away voters in the run-up to the poll.

The anti-nuclear Greens claimed about 24 percent of the vote — about 12 point higher than five years ago — and were likely to form a coalition with the Social Democrats, who garnered about 23 percent in the rich state.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Asia, Europe, Germany, Japan, Libya, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Politics in General

Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly: Moral Questions and Libya Intervention

[BOB] ABERNETHY: You have described a theory that you call “preventive humanitarian intervention.” Would you describe what that is.

[WILLIAM] GALSTON: Sure, it’s not that complicated. In the 1990s, there were two episodes of genocidal ethnic cleansing: one in the Balkans, the other in Rwanda. In both cases, the international community waited too long to intervene, and the result was a disaster. Many people in the White House remember that. Some of them were there in policy-making decisions. They were determined not to repeat it. When the Libyan forces were on the edge of Benghazi and Colonel Gaddafi issued a bloodcurdling threat to hunt down the dissidents alley by alley, the administration thought that it had no choice but to act to prevent an impending blood bath, and I think they were right.

ABERNETHY: You’ve also spoken of our two objectives. Spell those out.

GALSTON: We have a humanitarian objective and political objective. The humanitarian objective is to protect innocent civilian life. The political objective, which President Obama articulated some weeks ago, is to secure the exit of Colonel Gaddafi from power.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Libya, Religion & Culture, Theology

(WSJ) Robert Kaplan–The Middle East Crisis Has Just Begun

Democracy is part of America’s very identity, and thus we benefit in a world of more democracies. But this is no reason to delude ourselves about grand historical schemes or to forget our wider interests. Precisely because so much of the Middle East is in upheaval, we must avoid entanglements and stay out of the domestic affairs of the region. We must keep our powder dry for crises ahead that might matter much more than those of today.

Our most important national-security resource is the time that our top policy makers can devote to a problem, so it is crucial to avoid distractions. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the fragility of Pakistan, Iran’s rush to nuclear power, a possible Israeli military response””these are all major challenges that have not gone away. This is to say nothing of rising Chinese naval power and Beijing’s ongoing attempt to Finlandize much of East Asia.

We should not kid ourselves. In foreign policy, all moral questions are really questions of power. We intervened twice in the Balkans in the 1990s only because Yugoslav dictator Slobodan Milosevic had no nuclear weapons and could not retaliate against us, unlike the Russians, whose destruction of Chechnya prompted no thought of intervention on our part (nor did ethnic cleansing elsewhere in the Caucasus, because it was in Russia’s sphere of influence). At present, helping the embattled Libyan rebels does not affect our interests, so we stand up for human rights there. But helping Bahrain’s embattled Shia, or Yemen’s antiregime protesters, would undermine key allies, so we do nothing as demonstrators are killed in the streets.

Of course, just because we can’t help everywhere does not mean we can’t help somewhere.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Egypt, Foreign Relations, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Libya, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Syria

What the 2010 Census Says About South Carolina

Today, South Carolina is an older, more Hispanic and less rural state than it was 10 years ago, while its coast and urban counties have seen most of the growth. The statewide population increased by 15 percent since 2000, a greater increase than in most states, for a total of 4.63 million.

State Demographer Bobby Bowers said he was surprised by the growth of Dorchester County, where the population soared by 42 percent, made possible by scores of new neighborhoods in and around Summerville.

York, Horry, Beaufort and Lancaster counties were the next fastest growing counties, in that order.

Read it all from the local paper.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Census/Census Data, Economy, Politics in General, State Government, The U.S. Government